Thursday, August 03, 2006

Montmorency and the Assassins

by Eleanor Updale

The third installment in Updale's series about reformed (or is he?) criminal Montmorency is another rip-roaring read. Although it's been quite some time since I read the other two, I'd say this one's better than the second and nearly as good as the first. Assassins is the thickest of the three, but it was so hard to put down I still managed to finish it in only a few days — despite the demands placed on my attention by my mother and my sister in Las Vegas in 100+ degree weather.

Though this story is set 20 years after the original, the interval hasn't slowed our hero. On the other hand, like a well-aged wine, the themes have matured and become even more young adult-y: antique pornography, anarchism and class struggles, murder, murder, murder, workaholism, and a mysterious paternity that strongly implies a generous sexuality on the part of the mother, to name a few.

The book's pace seemed a bit off, with the major crisis happening with only 30 pages left for denouement, yet somehow the author makes it work. And then she goes and throws in a very hurty ending that made me almost cry. I saw it coming, but I didn't want to admit it to myself, and it still hurt.

The other two books in the series are Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? and Montmorency on the Rocks: Doctor, Aristocrat, Murderer?

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